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Bellingham Woman Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison for Meth and Heroin Distribution

MAY 23 (BELLINGHAM, Wash.)   –   A 37-year-old Bellingham woman who was a key player in a Whatcom County drug distribution ring was sentenced on May 21, 2013, in U.S. District Court in Seattle to nine years in prison and four years of supervised release for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.  Rosie Castaneda was arrested in December 2011, following a lengthy investigation of a drug trafficking organization that distributed methamphetamine and heroin throughout Whatcom County.  Castaneda was at once a supplier, a customer and a distributor of drugs for a criminal group headed by co-defendant Todd Hamilton.  Castaneda pleaded guilty in March 2012.  At sentencing U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour noted Castaneda’s extensive criminal history and her “lack of remorse” as indicated on recorded telephone calls she made from the Federal Detention Center.

According to records filed in the case, Castaneda was responsible for distributing both heroin and methamphetamine, and had been involved in using and distributing drugs in the Bellingham area for 20 years.  Castaneda has a lengthy criminal history and at the time of her arrest she was on active supervision with the Department of Corrections for prior convictions. Castaneda used male friends and boyfriends to threaten others and to make sure she was paid for the drugs she sold them.

The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Corrections, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force.  In addition, the Bellingham Police Department, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, and multitude of other local jurisdictions provided support, resources, and officers to assist in this year-long investigation.  This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved, and was investigated and prosecuted pursuant to the United States Attorney’s Northwest Washington Hot Spot Initiative.


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